Choirs old and new

Sadly I’ve decided to stop singing with the Clerkes in York, an excellent and fun chamber choir which I have been a member of for six months. While I’ve enjoyed the time I have spent, and I’ve tried various things to make it work, it’s just too much; and I think there’s a skill in identifying when something is no longer good for you (even something, paradoxically, which is fun and fulfilling). It’s all about balance, and identifying the moment when the scales tip.

I have one more outing with the Clerkes in October and then I will join them for their charity carol singing event later in the year. I have to admit that, much as it’s tinged with sadness to distance myself from friends who were still very new, and a group I’d just started to belong to (and even writing the word Clerkes causes a small pang), I do feel a weight has lifted off my shoulders to some extent. And it’s not as if I’m very far away. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the Clerkes and their projects and keeping in touch with the new circles I started to move in in York.

In the meantime, hoping to find another chamber choir which would feel easier to fit in with the rest of my life, I have approached the St Paulinus Singers in Ripon. Amongst many advantages (notably a wonderfully rich musical catalogue that excites me, rather like the Clerkes’) are several practical ones; they rehearse in Ripon much nearer where I live now (and where I hope to be living this time next year); and that the four pre-concert rehearsals take place on an evening, so my children will be asleep. It’s more practical for babysitting and I think it will be good to get my weekends back. Also, I can prepare the music at home. Sadly, today’s rehearsal (the first of the season) was cancelled due to the flooding, but I am planning to sing at the upcoming concert in Birstwith and look forward to meeting the members next week.

I’m also looking forward to feeling like part of a town. I wonder if belonging to a choir which rehearses in *my* town will feel better than sticking out like a sore thumb as a non-York-based Clerke.

It’s true though that I definitely value singing and music very much and would be extremely dismayed to not be able to fit any music into my week. I love the challenge and total escapism that comes from being immersed in a really hard rehearsal for two hours (I like the toughest and most knackering of rehearsals the best!), the buzz of music in your head afterwards, the discovery of new music from within, as a performer, and the experience of producing music alongside other people.

I’m very much hoping I can encourage my children to take up music, as if it hadn’t been for my parents and the school encouraging me to learn violin as a child, I would not now be able to access music in the way I now find so fulfilling as an adult. My nearly-7-year-old has just started the recorder, so I hope it’ll be the start of an enjoyable hobby for him.

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